How to Grow and Care for Dahlias

Updated on May 6, 2019
sofs profile image

Sofs is an amateur photographer who loves photographing nature. Gardening, like photography, is one of her passions.

Dahlia flowers are stunning show-stoppers in any garden, and there are more than 270,000 varieties of dahlias that are available today. These hardy plants are not fussy and can be grown in any kind of soil. They are easy to care for and come in a variety of exotic colors and shapes. Dahlias can be grown from seeds as well as tubers, though I would consider it a safe bet to grow them from the tubers. These are annuals and will last from late spring to summer.

The dahlia flower is the photographer's delight. The textures and the rich colors make even ordinary photographers like me look like specialists. Though they make wonderful cut flowers and gifts, your gift could last longer if presented as a potted plant. This guide will teach you how to grow and care for these wonderful plants.


How to Grow Dahlias

Any garden soil is good enough for dahlias. Add a little bit of fertilizer low in nitrogen into a pot of loam, moss, and sand, and you could grow dazzling dahlias that can be put the rest of your garden in the shade. Once the dahlias start blooming, even orchids have to take the second place.

Dahlias need plenty of sunshine though, at least about five to six hours a day. Plant the tubers in the sunniest part of your garden. Here in the tropics, they bloom twice a year.


When and How to Plant Your Dahlias

Dahlias can be potted in mid-spring. The tubers should not be buried too deep in the soil. It would be sufficient to have them planted in holes that are six inches deep and covered lightly with loam and peat moss.

These plants are suitable for small spaces as well, as they can be grown in pots. If you grow them in your garden, make sure you space the tubers well, giving 12–18 inches between each plant.


Tips and Tricks

  • Some dahlias grow quite tall and need to be supported with stakes, make sure that the stakes are a good six inches away from the plant so that you do not hurt the tuber. Pinching off the head of the plant allows new shoots and buds to form.
  • For gardeners who have space restrictions, the dwarf dahlias are a boon. These dwarfs are also suitable to be grown in large clumps and borders.
  • Dahlias can be made to bloom all through the season by cutting off the dried flower heads and allowing the plant to branch out further. Watering them frequently—not allowing the soil to dry out too much between watering—helps the dahlia plants to thrive.
  • When you harvest the flowers, make sure you cut close to the leaf joint. Cutting above the leaf joint encourages fresh growth and flowering.
  • If you want a huge bloom, pinch away the side shoots and buds, allowing only a few huge blooms to develop. This way you will have a huge—perhaps even a dinner plate-sized—dahlia in your garden.


Feeding Dahlia Plants and Preserving the Tubers

The stunning colors and textures of dahlias make them the delight of gardeners. Periodic feeding of fertilizer high in potassium ensures healthy blooms throughout the season. Deadheading also helps get more blooms.

The tubers could be dug up and preserved for the next season when the plant blackens and fades after the flowering season is over. Clean the tubers, dry them in a warm shady place (never directly under the sun), and store them with peat moss in perforated containers or bags during the long winter months. In tropical climates, you could just leave them in the ground, and they will spring back again in the next growing season.


Making Flowers Last

After cutting dahlia flowers for arrangements, you can make your dahlias last longer by placing the stems in a jar of hot water. Make sure you have at least 2 inches of the flower stalk in the water, not any more than that.

Allow the water to come to room temperature in a non-heated place before you arrange them. The immersed part of the stems look a little browned out, but the flowers last for almost a week and stay as gorgeous as ever in a vase.


Fun Facts About Dahlias

  • Did you know that dahlias are edible? However, I personally think that the ornamental value of the flower far outweighs its value as a food.
  • Dahlia tubers were first used in the treatment of diabetes.


These flowers bloom into the early autumn season, much long after your other blooms have faded. They will soon become your joy and your pride. Even if you are not a great gardener you will soon be looking forward to the season to take out the tubers and to get them growing in your garden. Happy dahlia days to you. :)


Do You Think You Could Grow Dahlias in Your Garden?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • The buds and flower heads of my dahlias became mushy and brown starting in late August. Can I save the tubers for next year, or should I consider them ruined due to the mushy brown flowers?

    It shouldn't affect the tubers. If the plant is affected cut the affected portion and let it remain in the ground until the stump dries off. You could then harvest the tuber and preserve it for another season.

  • Can I leave my tubers in the pot itself? Will they grow?

    It depends on your climatic conditions. In the tropics, we leave them as they are and in due season the come right back. In colder climates, you may have to overwinter them.

© 2011 Sophie


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    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Your article is too messy, you say you're in the tropics, but next you mention about spring. Then you say it lasts a week in a vase, then you say it stays gorgeous as ever. How can it be as gorgeous as ever if it only lasts a week? It seems like you just copy and pasted different articles about dahlia and put it altogether.

    • profile image

      Muneer Ahmed 

      2 years ago

      Which season is best for dehlia plants here in Pakistan ???

    • profile image 

      2 years ago

      can I transplant some of my dahlia bulbs even when they are still blossoming?

    • profile image

      Marta Ferguson 

      2 years ago

      I planted dahlias this year but have no flowers. Beautiful plant, healthy

      What did I do wrong?

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Where can i buy dahlia roots here in the philippines

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      5 years ago

      Dahlia have always been one of my favorite flowers.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      5 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Beautiful hub and lovely photos! Dahlias are exquisite flowers. Thanks for sharing how to grow these beautiful flowers, too.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wonderful photos! I love Dahlias! We had them in our yard when I was a child. Mom would trade with others with the tubers for different varieties. Your first photo of the orange one with darker sprinkles of color is so unusual, I have never seen that one before! I think back in the 1950's we had about 10 varieties. There were probably more, but that is what we had. Great Hub!

    • photostudiosupply profile image


      7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Very beautiful pics. I am sure that good photographic equipments were used for this photography.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      AmyEliza, Thanks for taking the time to stop by. I appreciate it very much. Have a lovely day.

    • AmyEliza profile image


      8 years ago from Toronto

      These are my favourite flowers. My Nana used to grow them in her garden. Glad I saw this post. Great insight!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Mujtuba, I am honestly unaware of making different color combinations with a couple of tubers... but may be well worth the study.. will let you know if I come across such information.. Have a great day!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks Will for stopping by. Maybe someone will when they read this! I have written most of what I know here! Have a great day!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      If anyone has any amazing facts about Dahlia please send it to This is for a classroom project. Thank you WIll

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      There you are spying my dahlia's !! Thanks for admiring them.. The dahlias are back again..but the buds seem much smaller this time.. I have already fixed the supports.. hopefully I will have more pictures to show.. Thanks for the hint.. Cutting out the side buds always ensure bigger flowers, but I would still take precautions with the support, who wants their baby to bend and break!! LOL . Thanks for you kind comment. have an awesome day!

    • natures47friend profile image


      8 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

      Such lovely photos. We used to have a large section and had lots of dahlias. I used to pick out the tiny buds to try and allow the bigger central bud to grow well. It did stop them bending and breaking until wind and rain would break the stems with the weight of the flowers.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you everyone for taking the time to look up my Dahlias and write a comment. I appreciate this very much, I honestly would love to respond personally, but that would go on forever.. Thank you and God Bless:)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Your opening photo caught my attention and let me to reading your hub. (and all the photos are gorgeous). I bought a dahlia plant earlier this summer and it was so pretty. Unfortunately, we had a very hot summer and it got a bit neglected so it ended up dying. Congratulations on Hub of the Day.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Gorgeous Photographs! I love all of your tidbits and the vibrant colors you've captured.

      Congratulations on a well deserved Hub of the Day!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hats off to the photography and the idea of choosing this topic.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub! It was entertaining as well as informative.

    • Rosalie21 profile image


      8 years ago from Mauritius

      Hi sofs, great hub with impressive photos!!! I'm sure these flowers must look like jewels in your garden...

    • starcraft2guides profile image


      8 years ago

      very nice, l like the pictures very much

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Wow, this is amazing.. I am so overwhelmed. I just want to tell everyone who has commented that this means a lot to me.. and I honestly appreciate your every comment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      I wish I could write to each one separately but that seems a bit too much..since I am not in the best of health at the moment. I want each person to know that I greatly value your comments .

      Thank you once again.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      8 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      I love Dahlias. These flowers are so beautiful. We have several varieties of Dahlia plants at my Parents place.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I flasback to my childhood after I read your hub. There were many type of dahlias at the fench at my home and neighbors'. Vote up!!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day.

      What a comprehensive and interesting hub about dahlias. I had no idea there were so many varieties of dahlias, or that they were edible, or that the dahlia tubers were first used in the treatment of diabetes.

      Your photos are stunning and a great inspiration to go out and grow my own dahlias. Thanks so much for sharing this hub. Voted up across the board except for funny.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Dahlias are really gorgeous flowers, and you have taken some beautiful pictures to show off their beauty. Dahlias were one of my grandmother's favorite flowers.

      Congratulations on hub of the day!

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 

      8 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      Those flowers are soooo beautiful!!! Congratulations on being selected as hub of the day.

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      8 years ago from new jersey

      lovely photos. great hub

    • Nolimits Nana profile image

      Nicolette Goff 

      8 years ago from British Columbia

      Gorgeous photos of my favorite flowers. Great hub.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day! Your photographs are stunning! I always loved dahlias, but now I must grow them. You make it sound easy... Great hub!

    • Coopstar profile image


      8 years ago from Tallahassee, FL

      Wow, such beautiful flowers. Fantastic hub :)

    • profile image

      Website Examiner 

      8 years ago

      Masterful work, from the champion of flower capturing!

    • c1234rystal profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub. These flowers are so gorgeous and I had no idea that there were so many different kinds. You taught me a lot I didn't know.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 

      8 years ago from Southwest England

      Well done on your hub of the day, an interesting piece with stunning pictures - your dahlias are absolutely beautiful!

      Can I just remind readers that the single-petalled varieties of dahlia are better for bees and other nectar feeding insects than the pom-pom or double-flowered varieties, so it's a good idea to include some single types in your collection. They might not be quite as showy, but are still very beautiful.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      8 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great tips and beautiful photos! This is a wonderful resource. Congrats on getting Hub of the Day!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Congrats on your hub being chosen as Hub of The Day! I have always loved dahlia's but never knew that they were edible.

      I've always stored the tubers in a brown paper bag in my basement. Do you think that this hurts them at all?

    • LindaSmith1 profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      I have heard my grandmother mention them, but I do not rememember her growing any. She probably did. But the pics show a beautiful flower. I wonder if flower boxes work well with these plants. I would assume they do not grow well in rocky soil.

    • Marylol profile image


      8 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Voted up!!! Love the hub :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congrats on Hub of the Day--I should have seen it coming. Looking at the photos again--just amazingly beautiful. Such a special flower that you've highlighted!

    • greatstuff profile image


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      Beautiful photos. I didn't know that you can place cut flowers in hot water..wouldn't it damaged the stalk?

    • Elissa Joyce profile image

      Elissa Joyce 

      8 years ago from US

      Great hub, Voted up.

    • vasantha  T k profile image

      vasantha T k 

      8 years ago from Bangalore

      'Lovely flowers and beautiful pictures and a nice hub for the day' Best wishes

    • dabneylewis profile image


      8 years ago from Boston

      great hub and lovvely flowers....

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Beautiful flowers! Excellent hub! Congrats on hub of the day! :)

    • tamarindcandy profile image


      8 years ago

      That's fantastically pretty, I never realized dahlias were so beautiful.

    • misterumbe profile image


      8 years ago from Calapan City, Philippines

      thanks for sharing...beautiful

    • pioneerio profile image

      Abeer Gh 

      8 years ago from UK

      Great hub :), really worthy of being the hub of the day!love the dahlia pictures.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      8 years ago from Brazil

      Congratulations on your hub of the day. My husband use to grow dahlias and they were beautiful. They soon became one of my favorites. I didn't know they were edible though, interesting hub.

    • leeba ann varghes profile image

      Leeba Ann Varghese 

      8 years ago from India

      Loved those nice that u have all these at your garden..

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello sofs, Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

      Best wishes MM

    • asmaiftikhar profile image


      8 years ago from Pakistan

      beautiful pictures keep it up!

    • TattooKitty profile image


      8 years ago from Hawaii

      Stunning photos and a delightful topic! Dahlia blossoms are truly inspiring! Thanks for brightening my day with their beauty ;)

      P.S. Kudos on being chosen Hub of the Day!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you RTalloni, dahlias are beautiful and are truly photogenic. Thank you for the read and comment, I hope you are inspired enough until the next season.. :) Best wishes to you!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      These are beautiful photos! I love dahlias, but have trouble growing them. I want them in my garden and to use as cut flowers, though, so you've made me start planning for next year now so I can maybe have better success. Thanks so much for sharing these and for the tips and tricks!

      Gorgeous--voted up and bookmarked.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you Tsmog, Darknlovely and MsDora. It is a pleasure to hear form you. I appreciate the read and the comments. God Bless!!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      8 years ago from The Caribbean

      Beautiful content, beautiful pictures. Thanks for this sharing these useful facts on dahlias. Voted up and useful.

    • Darknlovely3436 profile image


      8 years ago from NewYork

      Great Hub,lovely flowers

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      8 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great Article, brought a smile to me as I peeked through the home office window looking at my dahlia. I never pull up the tubers, yet it blooms every year. It is a favorite.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      D.A.L you are such a generous soul.. thank you for the encouragement and comment. I shall never forget that your pictures and hubs have been my early inspiration in this direction. My request still remains.. come back to Hubpages :)

    • D.A.L. profile image


      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      sofs, once again you have come up with a masterpiece of information enhanced by fantastic and beautiful images. you never fail to impress. Thank you for sharing.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Snakeslane, thanks for sharing. It is okay to leave the tubers in the soil as long as they are protected, but you will find the size of the flowers becoming smaller with years and the blooms reducing in number. Storing them with peat moss as mentioned will help your tubers remain fresh and not dry out as they do when left in the open. I hope you find a way of having your dahlias bloom well for you year after year. Thanks for the sharing and the comment :)

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Nice read and great photos, thanks. Where I live it's tricky trying to keep Dahlia tubers over winter. If we store them outside they freeze, and if we bring them inside they dry out. Really need a perfect spot, like a cool basement that's not too damp to get them through the winter. Some just leave them in the ground and pile mulch on top. If planted near the house this sometimes works.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Mar, thanks for the comment.. Ha dahlias..those dahlings always make you smile.. and yes so do Kylie and teddy :)

      Have a great day yourself :)

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      8 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      This is a beautiful smile maker, especially when I thought of the latest friend Kylie and Teddy had made in my series. You have such a gift with floral photography and the sharing of information.

      Voted UP & UABI-- have a peaceful day, mar.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Movie Master, knowing your love for flowers, it is a pleasure to hear from you.. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      TajSingh, I am glad you liked the pictures and hope you are inspired enough to grow some Dahlias yourself. It is great to hear from you ;) Thank you :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Paradise .. they are very easy to grow.. and I can assure you that your reward will be indeed handsome :) Very handsome :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Ruby my dear, I am glad that you know it now, in time to get the tubers ready for the next season. thank you for the comment and the visit, you know it is always appreciated greatly. Cheers :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Fotographer, thank you for the comment.. there is always room for improvement. I am still learning.. and appreciate all inputs .. thank you :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Mega1, thanks for the read. I am glad that you love Dahlias so much. Here is one more tip, wash (without scrubbing) the tubers and dry and preserve them until the next season.. the plant your tubers in early spring in pots that can be taken indoors if there is a threat of frost and move the plants to your garden once they have grown big enough to transplant them. This way you will have a longer flowering season and bigger flowers can be obtained by pinching off some of the branches and buds. Good nutrition and watering is the key. Letting the tubers be in the ground causes them to divide faster, you end up having more them but too weak and less productive for the next season.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Sofs, oh how I love your love of flowers!

      Your hubs and photos are amazing, thank you for sharing your hub of one of my favourite flowers.

    • profile image


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi sofs. Thanks for the guide on growing dahlias. Nice photos by the way.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Lovely, lovely flowers. And they do sound really quite easy to grow! What could be better than that?

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      sofs, Dahlias are very beautiful. Your article is informative. I didn't know you could store them in peat moss in winter months, nor did i know they were edible, not that i would ever eat them, i'd much rather look at them. Thank you for sharing.


    • Fotographer profile image


      8 years ago

      Impressive macro photography!

      Although this is wonderfully done, but there is always a room for improvement!

    • mega1 profile image


      8 years ago

      I adore my dahlias - they are a miracle. They and the lilies are real show stoppers. I didn't know I was supposed to take them up and put them in peat moss, maybe that explains why some are a bit smaller this year. I left them in the ground for 2 years. I have photos of mine too, they seem to invite closeups. For little effort they sure do a wonderful job of brightening our world. Thanks for this lovely hub.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Peggy , I appreciate the quick read and the comment. Glad you found the photographs of the show stopping dahlias beautiful :). Thank you for taking the time to comment :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Rosemay, thank you for pointing out the mistake, I have edited it. It may have been the famous Freudian slip as they say, a single healthy dahlia plant has been known to have hundreds of blooms, truly booming with buds and flowers. I am glad that you found it useful. Thank you for the comment and the editing help, truly appreciate it :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Diane Lockridge, Thanks for that very encouraging comment. I truly appreciate the vote up too. God Bless!!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Wonderful photos of your show-stopping dahlias! I used to grow the tall ones up north years ago. They are truly beautiful. Thanks!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      8 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This is a great hub and the photos are just amazing. The information you give is excellent. How to keep the tubers over winter was a really handy tip, I didn't know how to do this.

      I'm sorry but I must admit I did have a giggle when I read "Once the dahlias start booming even orchids have to take the second place" I think you mean 'blooming'

      Voted up

    • Diane Lockridge profile image

      Diane Lockridge 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great hub! Interesting info and BEAUTIFUL photos. Good job, voted up!


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